Love Your Cottage Garden Special

Love Your Cottage Garden Special

Love Your Cottage Garden is a one off special of Love Your Garden for the second series of Love Your Garden Themed Specials 2021.

The programme features not the usual one but two garden makeovers so the team needs to split into two to complete the gardens.

Alan Titchmarsh guides us through the makeovers with one team of David Domoney and Francis Tophill and the other team made up of Katie Rushworth and Danny Clarke.

Alan says the best gardens are ones you cannot wait to get into like the one he is at the gate of, the archetypal British Cottage Garden.

The cottage Garden is Britain's favourite garden style and when people think of a British garden it is always this style.

The Love Your Garden Team are going to share how to get a Cottage Garden into any sized plot by creating 2 very different gardens for 2 inspirational Nurses.

Design Concepts
Alan is in Essex to visit a Cottage Garden that he always feels at home in and its a style that has been around since Elizabethan times when workers would plant a mix of plants and produce.

Alan Titchmarsh

He is visiting April Cottage which is a real chocolate box cottage and Alan cannot stop smiling at the stunning garden.

This garden has all the classic Cottage Garden features, the narrow winding paths, beds all different sizes and shapes packed with flowers, vertical structures and rustic features.

It doesn't have just plant pots but quirky plant holders like tin baths and the odd mangle covered in pots and plants.

The Cottage garden planting has been its biggest influence on gardeners with its packed borders.

Cottage garden planting

There are climbers to climb the vertical structures and cover them in blooms, giant flower beds of pastel perennials like Roses, Hollyhocks and Lupins. 

The Cottage Garden is the most popular Garden Design as it makes you 'want to sit down and smell the Roses'.

Alan is in Redditch, Worcestershire  to surprise District Nurse Pat Hastings.

A very shocked Pat opens the door to cries of 'no way' and laughter and Alan tries a 'hello' which doesn't do a lot to calm the shocked nurse who is ready for a days work.

Pat Hastings

Pat has been a Nurse for 47 years and Alan reckons she must have started as a toddler!

Pat is a District Nurse and visits patients all over the Redditch area and Jennifer Howell Pat's Sister says they are the unsung heroes of the NHS as they are out doing this 365 days a year.

Pat visits people in their homes and it is the older members of the community that rely on their visits.

Kerry Greaves her work Colleague says her patients rely on her and love having her treat them and her Daughter Sophie Allsopp is very proud of her mum.

The Garden
Pat takes Alan out into her garden and Alan walks straight back out again before returning to the 'garden' with moans of 'honestly'.

Alan refers to it as a 'timber yard' there is decking everywhere finished off with a wooden summerhouse.

The Garden

There is a massive raised bed Alan refers to as a 'coffin' its devoid of plants and soil and is too big for Pat to reach across it.

Alan asks what her dream garden would be and Pat wants a garden to relax in, some colour and somewhere to unwind with a glass of wine.

The Garden

Alan promises her all that and if I know Alan she will get a lot more, Pat is excited and Alan needs that wine now!!

Alan starts his plans for the 4 metre by 10 metre garden and he starts with a S shaped path from the top to bottom.

The Garden plan

There will be a seating area and 2 large borders or Roses, Clematis, Sweet Peas and other Cottage Garden flowers.

There is an arch and a Summer house at the end.

A Work in Progress
Alan team arrives with Contractors Hortus Paradisi and Love Your Garden Team David Domoney and Frances Tophill.

David has started work on the path which is to be made of gravel and brick lined.

Traditional Herringbone pattern brick paths are expensive but a cheaper option is to use gravel and just bricks on the edge.

David Domoney

He is using cement to secure the bricks in place and he is leaning them on the brick in front to form a slanted design.

David hammers the brick in gently to the cement then puts a layer of cement at the side to secure them in place.

Frances has started work of the summerhouse and the roof is already to be put on.

This summerhouse is a lot smaller than her previous one but will be the focal point of the new garden and Frances is giving it a coat of paint.

Cedar Shingles

For the roof she is not using conventional felt but Cedar Shingles which look fabulous as well as being functional.

The roof has had batten fixed to it first and you need to leave a couple of millimetres between the shingle for expansion.

Frances is now fixing the Arch in place and she has made sure it is wide enough with 20-30 Centimetre gap.

This will leave plenty of room to still walk through when it is covered with climbers.

Frances Tophill.

They secure the post in the ground with concrete before Francis gives it a coat of diluted paint so it looks silvered and aged already.

The paint mix is 1 part paint to 15 parts water.

The borders which runs the length of the garden will be filled with flowers right up to the edge and Frances is amazing at using flowers to create a stunning picture perfect look.

She has a painting by Helen Allingham of the perfect Cottage Garden border which was planted and designed by Gertrude Jekyll.

Gertrude Jekyll

Paintings of gardens at Munstead Wood, Surrey were popular in the 19th Century of Gertrude Jekyll's beautifully planted borders.

She planned every border in detail and Frances has her design from the painting to work from.

She is using this to draw her own plan for the 7 metre border and will then plant up using the plan.


Frances has David bringing her the plants she asks for and she is placing them as per her plan, she tells him 'this is the fun bit' he does not seem to find it fun!

She is adding Kansas Gay feather and Veronicastrum which have long flowering seasons at the back then Hollyhocks, Delphiniums and Foxgloves.


Then in the middle of the border she is planting 4 Achilleas and the scheme is mostly blue and purple so she is adding some yellow Coreopsis to lift the bed.

Alan has brought some Climbers for the archway and he starts with a purple Clematis called Viticella 'Etoile Violette'.

He plants this on a slant 30 cm away from the arch and he is planting it slightly deeper than you would most plants to try and stop Clematis Wilt from happening.


You can use some garden twine to tie them in until they get established on the trellis.

Next to it on the Trellis Alan is adding a climbing Rose called Summertime and these will merge together as they climb up each other.

Alan is adding small patio Roses to the border next to the Summerhouse which will stay low and flower all summer long.

Compact varieties like Greenails Glory and Peter Pan are a good choice.

chimney pots and drainage pots

For a final flair and to add to the Cottage Garden look Alan is planting up some chimney pots and drainage pots which he is filling with aromatic plants like Thyme and Lavender. 

The chimney pot is having a pot with a Salvia fitted straight in it so this can be changed each season to keep it looking good.

As the final touches are added to the garden it is finally complete.

Grand Reveal


Pat open your eyes
Speechless then 'oh my goodness, oh my goodness' 'wow' deep breaths 'its breath-taking, absolutely breath taking' 'Absolutely perfect'.

Finished garden

The Cottage Garden is stunning

Mixed Borders of technicolour plants

Finished garden

The brick edged winding path and brick patio

Finished garden

Archway covered in climbers

Water feature

Finished garden


Pat wanders around the garden, taking everything in and she sits sipping wine at her seating area admiring her new amazing garden.

Cottage Gardens
Grafton Cottage Staffordshire, from a young age, owner Margaret Hargreaves was struck by the look of a Cottage Garden.

Grafton Cottage

Packman Green Leicestershire, owner Roger Whitmore  loves the colour and scents in his Country Garden.

Foxtail Lily Northamptonshire Tracey says its all about enjoying the garden.

Alan garden

Alan takes us to his garden and his favourite view in it of the Cottage Garden border which is a mix of Roses, Shrubs, Perennials, bulbs all just mismatched in the border.

He says a Cottage garden planting can be used in any size garden even a trough!

Alan has a trough which he has filled with peat free compost and he going to plant it with classic Cottage Garden style plants.

He starts with Foxglove, which is a native woodland plant which is good for a shady spot and if you want it to self seed you leave the flower spike to fade if not cut it off when it finishes flowering.


Next he adds Astrantia also known as Masterworts or Hattie's Pincushion  and then for foliage a Hosta.

Alan says if he had to pick one Cottage Garden plant to have he would chose his next plant the hardy Geranium and this one is a low growing, long flowering variety called Brookside.

This container holds the 3 ingredients needed in every container, a thriller, a filler and the spillers.

Design Concepts
Alan for his second cottage garden is taking a more modern take on the traditional garden.

modern cottage garden

He is in Hertfordshire to see a modern garden which has no chintz or any traditional features of a Cottage Garden.

The paths in this garden are straight and crisp with lots of straight lines, the paths criss cross making you want to explore the garden.

modern cottage garden

The giant borders are filled the Cottage Garden way but the plants are arranged in blocks of colour rather than mixed.

At the front they have evergreen Pittosporum with tall Hornbeam and Apple trees taking the place of Arches in the garden for height.

Alan starts his plan for a contemporary Cottage Garden with linear straight paths around a water feature leading to a sunken seating area with the whole garden surrounded by giant blocks of planting.


The planting will be very Cottage Garden and all the elements are there just rearranged differently.

Katie Rushworth is in Stoke surprising Paediatric A&E Nurse Grace Finney and her mother, Diane Finney, says she is 'so grateful to have a daughter like Grace' whom she is very proud of.

Grace Finney

Grace is 27 years old and a Senior Staff Nurse in the Emergency Trauma Unit at Staffordshire Children's Hospital.

Nicky Moss, her work Colleague says people think she so young but she is brilliant at what she does looking after children with often life threatening illnesses or injuries.

Grace not only looks after the children but also tries to make the department as welcoming as possible in her spare time.

Her colleagues have asked the team to transform her garden for her.

The Garden
Katie meets with Grace in her garden and she calls it a 'grannie garden' and not the sort of garden for a 27 year old to have.

The garden

The garden currently has crazy paving, fake grass and a garden shed.

She asks what her dream garden would be and Grace likes flowers and colour, somewhere to socialise with colleagues, somewhere to relax after work in.

Katie tells her the team would love to transform her garden.

A work in Progress
Alan team arrives with Contractors Hortus Paradisi and Love Your Garden Team of Katie Rushworth and Danny Clarke.

Katie is working on the top half of the garden including the water feature and the ground has already been prepared.

water feature

The contemporary water feature arrives and Danny comments its like a swimming pool but Katie says with the top on it looks like a bank vault!

Now she has the job of surrounding it with planting to make it look pretty and she is planting up a container on one side with Nepeta and Alchemilla Mollis.

water feature

On the other side she is planting a container with Evergreens for structure then soft billowy plants like Agastache, Agapanthus and Lychinis.

Katie is planting up one of the big borders and her twist on the Cottage Garden is to keep to one colour in the border - white!

white border

She has some Delphiniums called Guardian, Echinacea purpurea PowWow White and a Artemisia Silver Mound.

Danny is working on the lower half of the garden that will include the seating area, which has already been started and has its brick surround.

Danny is starting work on a contemporary seat that Alan saw on his garden visit and they are putting it opposite the new water feature.

contemporary seat

This seating is not your traditional metal or wooden bench but has a brick base of 2 brick columns and for the top 10 slats of 3 by 2 timber.

He screws the slats together with spaces and gives it a coat of colourwash to give it a more rustic look.

He then surrounds the bench with a yew evergreen hedge so it feels enclosed in the bed.

contemporary seat

Danny also adds some shade tolerant Geraniums to disguise the legs and trims the hedge so it appears to be floating.

The bench costs approximately £50 to build.

Danny is planting some trees to soften the edges by the fencing.

He is planting up his big border but he is making his a hot border as it catches the evening sun so it is full of colour.

hot border

He is planting a bright red Dahlia called Bishop of Llandaff, Crocosmia  and a Pittosporum Star Jasmine.

Danny making 2 modern style obelisks which will be painted black  which finish off the border and give the climbers some support.

Alan present for the garden has arrived and it is the container he made earlier for the shady spot in the garden.

Alan planter

They add it and the traditional planter fits in well next to the more modern style. 

Danny comments 'the man obviously knows what he's doing'!   'Yeah yeah' grins Katie.

They are adding the finishing touches and the garden is complete.

Grand Reveal


Grace open your eyes (Katie gets to say)
'oh wow!' 'oh its gorgeous' 'I feel like I have gone on holiday' 

Finished garden

The garden is now a modern Cottage Garden

Flower filled beds with a white and hot border

Straight slick paths

Finished garden

Sunken seating area

Finished garden

Bar Be Cue

Water feature surrounded by planting

Finished garden

Floating bench


As family arrive they are also shocked at the transformation  and join Grace in the sunken seating area to toast her new garden.

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